Established in the 19th century, the church and its parish in Shanxi’s Dongergou village was a massive draw for nearby believers and pilgrims alike. The use of the church was prohibited in July, but members of the congregation still hold mass outside it.
The university student is one of 13 members of The Church of Almighty God that were arrested in China’s capital at the beginning of the month. His release date is uncertain, and family not allowed to see him.
Some members of the underground Catholic clergy in China believe that the Vatican-China agreement has exacerbated the persecution of underground Catholics, and they see no hope for their churches to survive.
All references to God and religion were removed from the reading materials for children, including the Ten Commandments.
Refusing to join the government-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, some priests in Hebei have been forced to leave their churches and now organize secret “guerrilla-like” congregation gatherings.
An internal document from one of the municipalities in this northern province reveals a score-based motivational system for government and Communist Party personnel involved in the crackdown on churches. Top scores are given for the extinction of underground Catholics.
Hebei authorities forcefully erected a flagpole with the Chinese flag outside the church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Zhengding, the residence of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, one the most prominent leaders of the Underground Catholic Church.
Cities and villages across Shanxi are implementing special measures as part of the nation-wide “struggle to clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.” Promoted as a campaign against organized crime, it is yet one more of President Xi’s initiatives targeting religious groups and churches in China.
Officials have been working in the background to sustain a conflict between believers and local villagers. Because of this, a government-controlled Three-Self church remains closed today.
As per new legislation, over 150 congregation sites in this Hebei Province’s city are waiting to be approved by the government and have ceased their activities.